Obama And Erdogan Meet To Smooth Things Over As Ankara Claims Success Against The Islamic State
NEW DELHI: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Syrian rebels backed by the military have driven out all “terrorist organisations" from a strip of Syrian land bordering Turkey.
The PM made the announcement on a televised address, saying, “Thank God, today, from Azaz to Jarablus, our 91 km of borderline with Syria has been entirely secured.”
"All the terrorist organisations were pushed back - they are gone,” he added.
Turkey considers both the Islamic State and Kurdish militias to be “terrorist organisations.”
The claims were backed up by monitoring groups, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights noting that “rebels and Islamist factions backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes” had taken several villages on the border between Turkey and Syria “after IS withdrew from them, ending IS's presence on the border.”
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama sought to repair a rift with Turkey, expressing his wholehearted support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Obama referred to the failed effort to oust Erdogan and promised America’s help in bringing the coup plotters to justice.
Obama’s comments came after a meeting with Erdogan before a Group of 20 summit meeting in China. “This is the first opportunity that I’ve had to meet face to face with President Erdogan since the terrible attempted coup,” Obama said. “We’re glad you’re here, safe, and that we are able to continue to work together,” he added, facing the Turkish leader on a long table.
Relations between the US and Turkey have been strained since an attempted coup in Turkey on July 15, with some officials blaming the United States for fomenting the uprising. Further, Turkey contends that 75-year-old Fethullah Gulen, living in self-imposed exile since 1999 in the eastern US state of Pennsylvania, orchestrated the coup, and had put pressure on the US to send Gulen back to Turkey. America, however, maintained that Ankara has yet to provide them with any evidence linking the cleric to the failed plot.
The two countries also differ on Turkey’s operation in Syria, as along with the Islamic State, Turkey considers YPG, a Syrian Kurdish group, to be a terrorist group. The YPG, however, is an ally of the United States. In fact, just a few days ago, following comments by a US military spokesman who had expressed hopes that rather than see Turkey pursue Kurdish fighters, "all parties involved are going to stop shooting at each other and focus" on IS, Ankara contacted the US ambassador over comments the foreign ministry called "unacceptable".
Erdogan referred to this divergent view in China, saying that it was important for the United States and Turkey to fight against all terrorist groups, not just the Islamic State. “We have to embrace the same stance against all terrorist organizations around the world,” he said. “Our hope is never to see a belt of terrorism, a corridor of terrorism emerging in or around our region.”